With the holiday coming up and the short work week, we'll be taking a slightly abridged look at the Not-So-Household names this time around. As always, these are the guys who do not get the national spotlight, but who are capable of racking up big yards and multiple scores each week. With the Heisman and BCS talks heating up, it's nice to give a little bit of attention to the lesser known guys around the country.
Alex Carder, Western Michigan—Western Michigan is ranked 7th in the nation in passing yards, all thanks to Carder. The junior has thrown all but 12 passes for the Broncos this season, amassing 3,251 yards this season with 28 touchdowns to only nine interceptions. Carder is no stranger to big games, having already thrown a five- and seven-TD game this year. He is on an unbelievably hot streak right now, as he’s averaging 460.3 yards passing in his last three games. All of those factors, plus the fact that WMU is playing Akron (109th in points allowed) this week should mean that Carder continues his big time aerial attack this week at home.
Blaine Gautier, Louisiana-Lafayette—Gautier had a less-than-stellar game last week against a very good Arkansas State defense. The good news this week is that they are facing the offensive-minded Arizona defense that has given up 465.4 yards per game this season. The other good news is that the junior’s coaching staff is not afraid to air it out, as evidenced by Gautier’s games of 51 and 47 attempts this year. Gautier’s 19 touchdowns and 150.5 rating are tops for quarterbacks in the Sun Belt, and looks good to stay the course this week in Tuscon.
Cierre Wood, Notre Dame—With the news that Jonas Gray’s season is over due to a knee injury, Wood’s value is much higher. Wood has had more attempts and rushing yards for the Irish this season, but it was Gray scoring most of the touchdowns as of late. Gray had scored in eight straight games before suffering the unfortunate injury. Wood will now be the undisputed go-to option in the backfield, which greatly increases his potential to find the end zone. The team plays Stanford this week, so the matchup is not as favorable one would hope. But quarterback Tommy Rees has had an up-and-down season this year, meaning the Irish may rely heavily on Wood to be a steadying offensive weapon.
Adonis Thomas, Toledo—Thomas missed almost four full games with a broken arm this season, and yet still has managed to rack up 822 yards and ten touchdowns in seven games. The senior is attempting to go out with a huge bang, averaging 209.6 yards from scrimmage over these last three games with two TDs in each. The Rockets give Thomas plenty of chances to find the end zone each week, as they have scored 44+ points in five out of their last six games. Their stellar offense will meet Ball State’s underwhelming defense (100th in points allowed, 119th in yards allowed) this weekend, which should add up to more big yards and scores from Thomas in his final regular season game.
Alec Lemon, Syracuse—Lemon has been anything but during his last two games, following up a 9-catch, 157-yard performance with a 10-catch, 179-yard yard one last week against South Florida. He’s also hooked up with quarterback Ryan Nassib for three touchdowns in that span, doubling his season total to six. Syracuse should be desperately trying to snap their three-game losing streak this Saturday against a reeling Cincinnati team. The Bearcats have given up almost 400 yards of offense during their last two games, so the opportunity to gain some good yardage is tangible. It’s strange to see an Orange Lemon (bad joke), but it would not be strange to see the junior have another fine receiving day this weekend at the Carrier Dome.
Marqise Lee, USC—All the attention was on Robert Woods’ tender ankle last week, but it is Lee who has been the consistent receiver the last four games. The freshman has averaged 8 catches during that time and has grabbed four touchdowns, including a 59-yarder from QB Matt Barkley during last week’s upset over Oregon. Lee has been able to pull down 60 catches for 919 yards and nine touchdowns during his rookie season. Barkley and the Trojans will surely be airing it out again this week against UCLA, so there should be plenty of opportunities for more big plays from the exciting youngster.
Clay Sears, Tulsa—Sears has had a very solid season for Tulsa this season, one of the best for tight ends around the country. His six touchdown catches are 7th in the nation for tight ends. Last week he wasn’t about to find the end zone, but still hauled in seven passes for 93 yards to help out in a win over UTEP. This week the team plays Houston, meaning there is a good chance the offense might get down early. If that is the case, look for Tulsa to try and catch up with the passing game, and using Sears effectively as they have all season.